Wrapping Up The Road To San Antonio

By Jerry Palm - April 08, 2008

SAN ANTONIO -- As I sit in the hotel lobby the morning after one of the most thrilling championship games ever, I started pondering some of the bests and worsts of my road to San Antonio, which included stops in Denver and Detroit.

Best game: Duh.

Best player: Stephen Curry. The kid's a special talent.

Best band (spirit): Doc Nix and the Green Machine pep band of George Mason

Best band (music): Davidson, which has half a dozen or so professional musicians filling out the roster because the school is too small to field a full band on its own.

Best cheerleaders: UCLA. The room stops when they're on the floor.

Best fans: Davidson. Nobody had more fun. Nobody appreciated the experience more.

Best food: Beef Enbrouchette at Saltgrass on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Best bar/drink/bartender: At Sirius in San Antonio, you too can have breakfast, bloody breakfast. Make sure Richard is making the Bloody Mary's. They'll put hair on your chest, or in Eric Sorenson's case, on his head.

Best bar, honorable mention: Detroit Pub. My oasis in the morass that was downtown Detroit.

Best city: San Antonio is about as close to perfect as a Final Four host can be. Plenty to do in a great setting, and you can walk everywhere.

Best media relations: Mountain West folks in Denver. Always on the ball and quick to deal with any problems that crop up.

Worst game: Tie: Every game in Denver. Nothing remotely competitive, except the MSU-Pitt game, which was competitive for a half or so.

Worst arena: Ford Field. Not so much because of the new setup, which the jury is still out on for me, but because of very long walks to wherever you need to go and a leaky, luxury port-a-john.

Worst cheerleaders: Pitt. All cheers are variations on a theme: Let's go Pitt.

Worst team performance: Winthrop's second half against Washington State might be the worst half of offensive basketball I have ever witnessed. They scored just 11 points, six on two threes in the last couple of minutes, long after the game was in doubt. They weren't even close on most of the shots they missed.

Worst sound: Ford Field. All the sound seemed to dissipate there. I'm 100 feet from the Wisconsin band - a group with big sound -- and they're a whisper to me. Fan noise barely reached the floor. Maybe it will be different when 70,000 people are there instead of 52,000.

Worst food: room temperature hot dogs in Detroit.

Worst city: Detroit, obviously. I cannot believe this city is going to host a Final Four. There is absolutely nothing to do there, unless you like casinos or strip clubs. There is little worthwhile within walking distance of the stadium. In fact, mostly, you just want to get out.

Worst media relations: Still waiting to hear back from whoever ran things in Detroit.

Toughest job: David Worlock, NCAA Media Relations Director, which means he's the complaints department. Talk about a thankless gig. I bet the phrase, "Thank you, sir! May I have another!" is rarely far from his mind. He does a great job dealing with all our (the media's) whining though, and is always very responsive, but I bet he's not going to mind seeing us leave.

And that's it for my coverage for CSTV.com. For now, I hope.

Posted by Jerry Palm at 11:46 AM on April 08, 2008

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